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The Old School 4E Bestiary (Halloween Special): The Madness of the Allip!

allipsHalloween Week is finally upon us, and if that wasn’t reason enough to be scared, we have what is likely to be remembered as the “Storm of the Century” barreling its way onto the New Jersey shore!  (My hopes and good wishes go out to those affected by Hurricane Sandy – please stay safe out there.)  So in honor of this week of terror and fear, I have a new 4E version of an undead monster known for bringing madness and death: the Allip.

As I was working my way through creating a 4E version of Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, one of the creatures recommended for an encounter in the haunted town of Nulb was the allip.  Introduced in the 3rd Edition D&D Monster Manual, this ghostly undead born from the tortured soul of a suicide victim, is rather unique in that it did no physical damage to its victims.  Its “old school” attacks were based upon mental assault, in the form of a mad babble which caused a hypnotic effect, and its touch which drained away a heroes’ Wisdom score.

My first instinct, as a 4E DM, was to use another some other undead monster in place of the allip, seeing as the allip has such an odd arsenal of powers.  Its powers went against many 4E design paradigms, and I didn’t really want to open up the whole issue of dealing with ability score damage and drains.  But the idea of a creature that caused madness and despair as a long term effect is an awfully compelling one, and some of the 4E design structures actually lend themselves to improving the monster without changing too much of its basic nature.

The Allip

When a mortal is driven mad by madness and despair, they often feel their only recourse to end the suffering by seeking their own death.  But for some poor souls, committing suicide does not end their mental anguish, but instead makes it an eternal hell when their spirit refuses to pass quietly into the afterlife, and instead lingers on in the mundane realm.

The mad spirit rises each night to haunt the place where it took its own life.  Its vaporous shape retains some of the features it had in life, but distorted by the insanity which drove it to suicide.  Its glowing eyes bulge huge, and its mouth opens far too wide as it shrieks and babbles incoherently.  The spirits torso trails away into misty tatters as it floats across the ground, leaving a fog-like wake behind it.  It flails psychotically at its foes, but it does no physical harm, but instead sends images of its madness and despair into its victims.

Lore

Religion DC 14: The allip is a spirit of a mortal driven to extreme madness, and in despair ended its own life.  It can never be reasoned with or put to rest, and must either be destroyed or allow it can take revenge upon those who, in life, drove it to insanity.  Since the person or persons who drove it to madness are often long dead themselves, the allip will linger on haunting its death site until powerful heroes arrive to end its tortured existence.

Religion DC 21: Battling an allip is very dangerous and can unhinge the minds of those who are attacked by its flailing limbs.  Following an encounter, the allip’s victims can experience feelings of madness and despair for several days, and can often drive weaker minds to insanity or to a depression so profound that their lives and the lives of their companions are in constant danger.

Encounters

Allip are usually encountered alone, but sometimes two persons are driven to a suicide pact which allows two allip to rise together and haunt any living creature which enters their domain.  Often, swarms of lesser creatures like rats, bats, or death scarabs will nest unknowingly nearby, and be driven into killing frenzies when the allip’s maddening babble rises to fever pitch in a combat against mortals.  Sometimes there are dangerous traps or terrain in the area haunted by an allip, often a maddening visions of its death, and it will send foes into these areas once insanity has seeped into their minds (i.e. domination).

Sample Encounter (EL 5 XP 975)
Allip
Rat Swarms x3 (per Monster Manual or Compendium)
Maddening Visions… of Death! (see below)

allip stat block

Allip Afflictions

Allip Madness (Affliction)

You feel your thoughts turning more chaotic, strangely filled with echoes like the babbling of the allip.

Stage 0: The afflicted recovers from the madness.
Stage 1: Paranoia: The afflicted takes a -2 penalty to Will Defense
Stage 2: Hallucinations: The afflicted takes a -2 penalty to Perception and Insight checks
Stage 3: Psychotic Break: The afflicted cannot differentiate reality from delusion.  The afflicted takes -5 to all skill checks, and spends most of their time acting strangely and babbling irrationally.  In combat situations, the afflicted must save at the end of each round to act normally on their next round.  On a failed save, the afflicted rolls a d10:

  • 1-3 –takes no actions and rants insanely at hallucinations
  • 4-5 – uses an At Will power in a strange (and non-damaging) way
  • 6-8 – must move their full speed away from all combatants
  • 9-10 – attacks nearest creature(s) with a random At Will power.

Check: At the end of each extended rest, the target makes an Insight or Religion check if it is at stage 1 or 2.
9 or lower: The stage of the affliction increases by one.
10-14: No Change
15 or higher: The stage of the affliction decreases by one.

Allip Despair (Affliction)

The touch of the allip has filled your soul with darkness and despair.

Stage 0: The afflicted recovers from the despair.
Stage 1: Anxiety: The afflicted takes -5 penalty to initiative checks
Stage 2: Depression: The afflicted takes -2 penalty to all skill rolls and saving throws
Stage 3: Hopelessness: The afflicted is considered dazed at the start of combats which lasts until the end of their first turn.  The afflicted also takes a -3 penalty to Death Saving Throws, and dies after the second failed save.

Check: At the end of each extended rest, the target makes an Insight or Religion check if it is at stage 1 or 2.
9 or lower: The stage of the affliction increases by one.
10-14: No Change
15 or higher: The stage of the affliction decreases by one.

Maddening Visions… of Death! (Elite)

Hazard Level 2 – Elite Obstacle - XP 250

A ghostly scene plays out before your eyes of horrific death.  But worse still, you feel everything the victim felt, and even the mad last thoughts screaming through its mind!

Perception (DC 13): The character notices a strange spot of darkness on the wall or floor.
Insight (DC 17): From as far as 5 squares away, the character senses a palpable dread emanating from the locale.

  • Trigger: The visions begins when a character approaches within 2 squares of it.
  • Attack: Immediate Reaction / Close blast 3 / +7 vs. Will
  • Target: Each creature in blast.
  • Hit: 1d10 + 3 psychic damage, and the target is immobilized (save ends).
  • Miss: The target sees the vision of death.

Countermeasures
Religion (DC 19): A character that is a member of a divine class and approaches to within 2 squares of the hazard can disable it by a successful Religion check as a standard action.

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I hope you enjoy using the allip in your own Halloween adventures, and find it to be an exciting and scary addition to the creatures in your 4E DM’s arsenal.  Please feel free to post comments or feedback about this creature, and suggestions for improving its abiltities are always welcome.

I’d like to thank the owners of the Legends of Thassilon Campaign at Obsidian Portal for the very cool images of allips which I used in this blog – hopefully they won’t mind that these images grace a 4E version of the creature, even though they play a Pathfinder campaign!

So until next blog… I wish everyone a safe and fun Halloween!

And for those on the east coast in the hurricane’s path – please take every precaution and stay safe!


About The Author

Editor-in-Chief
Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.

Comments

One Response to “The Old School 4E Bestiary (Halloween Special): The Madness of the Allip!

  1. Tom Mueller says:

    Brilliant work! I especially like the aura design, clever application of mechanics.

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